Thursday, November 2, 2006
Solving time: 7:42
THEME: Math! (rather than explain, I'll just give you the theme clues and answers)
20A: Step One: For every answer in this crossword, count this (Number of letters)
38A: Step Two: Take the figure you get for Step One and do this (Multiply by three)
56A: Step Three: Your Step Two result is the letter count for ...! (Each answer's clue)
And yes, 3x=number of letters in the clue, where x=number of letters in the answer. Wow, that was easier to explain than I'd imagined.
iTunes has seen fit to start me off with the Grease soundtrack this morning, so I'm feeling Very Good. John: "I got chills / They're multiplyin' / And I'm loooooooosin' control / 'Cause the power you're supplyin' / It's Electrifyin'!!!!" Then Olivia, singing to me, not John: "You better shape up / 'Cause I need a man / And my heart is set on you. . ." Whatever you say, Olivia, as long as you wear the poodle skirt and not that street-walker get-up Rizzo somehow convinced you to wear at movie's end.
What is up with the last two days' puzzles? I have absolutely torched them (by Rex standards), breaking Rex records for Wednesday and Thursday puzzles on back-to-back days. I even did today's puzzle on screen, with the Across Lite ap, which normally slows me down - but today I entered the first six Across clues one after the other, all (it turns out) correctly. [iTunes has "Chicago" by Sufjan Stevens on now ... do you know it? I LOVE it. Soundtrack-worthy. A kind of shout-out to my Chicago reader(s)]. Plus, this puzzle was math-tacular, and the second theme answer came very easily and intuitively after I'd solved the first. Nice that this math-related puzzle also has 1A: Pre-calc class (Trig) and 61A: SAT component (Math) in the grid, in addition to the three long theme answers. Oh, and it's got 59D: P's, to Pericles (rhos), which I'm sure must be mathematical symbols of some sort... anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
This morning, I got to read the gigantic Halloween story that Sahra's class (collectively) had written earlier in the week. It was hanging on several gigantic pieces of yellow lined paper tacked up to the wall (12 sq. ft. of story!). The story was awesomely structure-free with monsters chasing kids chasing monsters into homes and out of homes and down to Spooky River (!) and then it was all a dream but then it wasn't but then the mummies and vampires and witches all died and the kids slept well because they were full of candy. The End.
10A: Dandy fellows (fops)
A great, under-utilized word, perhaps because FOPS seem to be a time period-specific (and British) phenomenon. The word originally referred to socially aspirant men who aped the dress and manners of the aristocracy in very showy, flowery, excessive ways. Wigs and ruffles and rouge and lisping and what not. I just now learned (from Wikipedia) that there was an early 80s phenomenon known as "Fop-Rock," which included the likes of Adam Ant and Falco. I own(ed) albums by both of them. I did not know that their anachronistic love of castles, stagecoaches, and Vienna made them "foppish." Although, looking back at the "Goody Two-Shoes" video ... I mean, he's chasing a hot chick, but he is quite pretty and ruffly and made-up himself. But those early-80s New Wave, New Romantic pop stars - they all loved their hair and make-up and flouncy clothing. Girly guys chasing girls. I could dig it.
14A: Old VCR format (Beta)
HA ha, this is rich. It reminds me of my dad, who would always buy the latest electronic gadgets. He was especially drawn to those gadgets that cost monstrous sums of money and then became obsolete two years later, and BETA was one of them. The Gigantic Laser Disc (album-sized) was another. He has scores of (not cheap) movies on Laser Disc that he will never be able to watch again unless he dusts off that old player, which was the size of a small spaceship. I joke about it, but that Laser Disc player made my adolescence a blast. I will always remember it fondly, because it was how I watched great movies like Night Shift and Michael Nesmith's Elephant Parts and The Making of Michael Jackson's "Thriller". Why my dad thought it was cool for a 12- and 9-year old to watch (Repeatedly) a comedy about the organization of a hookers' union is beyond me, but thank god he did. I mean, come on - this is how I knew Shelley Long (before I ever saw a single episode of Cheers):OK, I'm going to stop reliving the psycho-sexual dynamics of my adolescence now. Adam Ant and Shelley Long are enough for one day.
41A: Footnote abbr. (ibid.)
The one place I stumbled in the puzzle. I had ET AL. In fact, so much do I want this to be ET AL., I even just now entered it as the correct answer in the bold heading of this entry. ET AL. gave me NUTS for 33D: Central parts (Nubs), which seemed fine to me. Eventually I realized that one does not FLAP A COIN (34D: Decide by calling heads or tails), and the problem was fixed.
42A: A foot wide? (EEE)
This, like OOOO (as exclamation), SSSS (as a hissing sound), AAA, and the like, always seems slightly cheap to me. I mean, why not go to EEEEE. That's a foot width, too (I think). My wide feet make foot-width clues quite obvious to me. I have been a bit foot-obsessed lately, as I pronate like crazy, and I now have to wear orthotic inserts in my shoes. More information on my feet in coming episodes, I'm sure.
4D: Star of "Ninotchka" (Garbo)
OK, I'm off to find the hottest head-shot in the history of movie-dom. Hang on... Oh, yeah, I want this for my birthday. I saw this hanging in my local frame shop and I believe I just stood and stared at it for many minutes. I don't think I've ever seen a Garbo movie, but I intend to.
6D: Put away, crypt-ically? (entomb)
And the Halloween fun continues. See also (sort of) 16A: Peek follower (a-BOO!).
9D: "Garfield" foil (Odie)
"Foil," that's awesome. Like he's a secondary character in a Shakespearean tragedy. Rich. Have I mentioned Sahra's absurd passion for Garfield, particularly the recent Bill Murray movies? Oh yeah. You have a kid, and you want it to have good taste, so you expose it to the things you love, hoping some of it will take. And then a bloated, computer-generated, 20-years-past-his-prime cartoon cat comes along. And then all of your best-laid plans go pffft as you watch your child double-over in tearful laughter while trying to tell you about Garfield's encounter with a bidet. To her credit, however, Sahra loves all things Looney Tunes and knows the name of Wile E. Coyote's favorite mail-order catalog (given here in the plural): 52D: Ultimate heights (Acmes).
55A: Joy of the morning? (Behar)
QUESTION MARK, indeed. The irony runs deep, as she brings Joy to no one.
56D: Actor Morales (Esai)
"Mr. Morales, it's the Pantheon on line 1. They want to know if you'll be able to attend the induction ceremony ... I don't know, something about your freakishly vowel-ridden name."
57D: "I get it," jokily (Ah, so)
Is "racistly" an adverb? Because I'm pretty sure you have to say "AH, SO" with your eyes squinted, while bowing slightly. It's something Richard Dawson not only would, but did say, from time to time, on Match Game. You might want to follow up AH, SO with "Confucius say..." or "Ancient Chinese secret." Then start saying your R's as L's, and you're ready to take your Asian-baiting show on the road! "Ah, So" was a catch phrase of Mr. Moto in old films. Moto was played, yellow-facedly, by the otherwise amazing Peter Lorre. He was supposed to be Japanese, for the record. I much prefer Lorre as the child murderer in M, or, better yet, as the decidedly FOPPISH Joel Cairo in The Maltese Falcon.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld